Friday 5 October 2012

The risk and then the reality

So the Race Across America, or "RAAM" as it's commonly known in the cycling community, is consistently voted as the "World's toughest sporting event", "The world's toughest endurance bicycle race". It's far longer in distance than the Tour de France, but must be finished in half the time or less in the case of the team category. It takes in some of the hottest parts of the USA, some of the highest, most mountainous parts, 4 sometimes even 5 lane roads. The Solo category has amassed less official finishers than people to summit Everest, oh and it's killed 2 of it's participants in the modern race's era.

But the risk about this 3000 mile monster race's is hyped up for media purposes. Granted it's not the safest holiday on the planet - if you can call it a holiday!? But if someone was thinking of attempting the race, but was too scared of it because it might kill them, bear this in mind.

The reason in the female category there is about a 75% DNF or Did Not Finish rate, is because the person attempting it, is ultimately not willing to risk the most important thing in their life, their health, above finishing the race.
I think all competitors have to go into the race with the feeling that the race itself is far less important than your health.

So for someone with epilepsy, what does that entail?

Well for a start you must have the best crew possible. Excellent nutrition, them making sure you don't have to worry about remembering your medication, because they'll do it for you, making sure you just have to cycle, eat and sleep and everything else is taken care of, is absolutely crucial.

Secondly having done the race in the team category is a good indication of how you will fare over the period you will do the Solo race too. That knowledge you get is as about as close as you can get to pushing your boundaries and knowing your limits, without actually doing the Solo race itself.

Finally, the knowledge that you are well enough to do the race.
Medical testing is something which is certainly not alien to me. I've had more brain scans, than many people have had hot dinners. So getting expert knowledge before the race, that you are as safe, as a non epileptic individual would be doing the race, is also crucial.

At the end of the day is always better to be safe, than push your boundaries that one pedal stroke too far.

For me, particularly with the objectives of proving a point about the stigma of epilepsy, what would be the point in ending up injured or worse, because of something that might be cited as being induced by my medical condition?
Most people, particularly women, don't officially finish RAAM Solo. So to finish the ride at all, even outside the time limit, is something which still proves a massive point about people's ability who have the condition.
And after all, I doubt people sponsoring you for charity would decide you didn't deserve it after you had still cycled 3000 miles!

The reality of the risk, is that you make it as serious as you want it to be, by pushing yourself to an extreme and by not knowing your limits, or competing completely outside of them.

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